This genus of insects contains five known species. All usually have a single egg-laying queen. They live in common colonies of 2,500 to 70,000 individuals. Most of which are sterile females. They have no really close relatives, though the Bumblebee is probably somewhat related. Also there are the stingless bees of the subfamily Meliponini and have two genera, Melipona and Trigona.

As far as I know the name of the genus comes from the old myth (Spread by Aristotle) that bees were spontaneously generated from the bodies of dead bulls.

Apis Cerana, the Asian Honey Bee is also sometimes called Apis Indica or the Indian Honey Bee. It is found from Iran eastward in Asia. It is smaller and produces much less honey per hive then the European Honey Bee and so cultivation is dying out.

Apis Dorsata, is often called the Giant Honey Bee, as is Apis Laboriosa. They are very similar, but Dorsata are found from Iran to the Phillipies in warm areas. They build a single comb, often on the underside of a large tree branch or overhanging cliff. Laboriosa is only found in the Himalayas from 4,000 to 11,000 feet of elevation and is slightly larger. Both have relatively small productions of honey and are not kept in human built hives. Both are said to have very painful stings.

Apis Florea, is the smallest of the Apis species. It also builds a single exposed comb. It's honey is somewhat sought after in Asian countries because if its rarity, but most studies show there is no difference between it and the honey of other species. Currently it is spreading its range into Africa and the Middle East from its Asian range.

Apis Mellifera is the European Honey Bee. It is the most common species and also the most commonly cultivated by man.